Last Tuesday, Jessie Tendayi, exhibited the giving spirit of Christmas to some children that could use a little bright spot in their lives. Some people may even say she’s much like Advocate’s own Santa Claus.
Tendayi, works at Advocate Trinity Hospital as a cafeteria worker. For the eighth consecutive year, she delivered 1,000 toys to Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn for sick children. “Deliver” may not be the best word to describe Tendayi’s generosity since she saves her own money each year to provide a little Christmas joy to these little children.
Jessie Tendayi was unable to have kids of her own, but says she feels blessed to be able to provide a little Christmas joy in these sick children’s lives. Each year, the toys are gathered in a waiting room of the hospital where Jessie helps each patient pick out the perfect gift. For patients unable to leave their room, Jessie hand delivers them gifts.
“This is what God put me here to do – making these children smile is all I need,’’ said Tendayi, who has been featured on local networks for her extreme generosity, which began in 2009 with 100 toys. Now, the number is over a thousand.
Amazingly, throughout the year, Tendayi saves money from her paycheck (and sometimes picks up extra shifts) to fund her mission. Tendayi said she spent $5,000 on 1,000 toys, most of which were purchased on Thanksgiving Day and the following weekend.
“I’m so grateful Jessie is part of the Advocate Trinity hospital family,’’ said Terika Richardson, president of Advocate Trinity Hospital. “She is an asset to our hospital and to hundreds of kids every year. Her generous spirit embodies the true meaning of this holiday season,’’ Richardson said.
Mike Farrell, Advocate Children’s Hospital president, said the staff is inspired by Tendayi’s compassion for young patients who can’t be home during the holidays.
“Advocate Children’s Hospital is incredibly grateful for everything Jessie has done and continues to do for our young patients. She has brought smiles and holiday cheer to hundreds of children and their family members,” said Mike Farrell, Advocate Children’s Hospital president. “Her generosity continues to amaze our staff every year.”